by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
So here we are in the early part of September and of course it is still relatively warm for most of us. But for many of us we know that the cold and blustery winter is just around the corner and think about what that means for most of us.
- Weight gain
- Less activity
- More frequent colds
- Feelings of lack of motivation and/or depression
- Low energy
What is important to understand though, is this does not have to be. Most will recognize that we need less sleep in the summer, we have more energy, we’re more active, we feel better emotionally, we are sick less and we tend to lose weight. Below are four healthy secrets to stop being exhausted all the time!
So what is the magic of the summer that we tend to lose the rest of the year? Here is the list of what we are dealing with in the colder months. We require more sleep, we are stuck inside with stagnant air flow, we tend to be less physically active and we do not enjoy regular exposure to sunshine.
All of these realities for most will lead to the typically winter challenges listed initially in this article. But there are some simple lifestyle adjustments you can make to enjoy the same level of health and vibrancy year round. While this should not be a secret, it sure seems to be.
Before I get into what to do, let’s discuss the natural occurrence we would have lived with in the past. Here’s some examples for you.
- During the winter months it gets darker earlier and the sunrise occurs later that during the summer, which would naturally lead to a longer sleep duration in the colder months.
- Naturally we would be exposed to more plant based foods during summer months which are cooling foods and more protein and fat in the winter which are more warming foods.
- Years ago, we would have been much more active in the summer tending to fields and gathering our food supply to survive harsh winters.
These is just a small sample of how life used to be for most, so I am sure you get the picture. So the big question now is, what do we do to still honor the changes in seasons, while maintaining a modern lifestyle and more importantly, maintaining our health and vibrancy all year.
We’ll look at sleep first. One of the single biggest things you can do to maintain your health in the colder months is honor the need for additional sleep. As example, I often go to bed at 10:00 – 10:30PM during the summer but I can go to bed anywhere from 9:00 – 9:00PM during the colder months. When there is a time change I will even be jumping in bed around 8:30PM while my body is adjusting to the time change in the fall. It also helps to sleep a bit later in the colder months. If your schedule allows, try to get and extra 30 minutes of sleep added to your morning hours also. Collectively this will keep you in tune with the natural rhythms of your body to keep you healthy and vibrant. For clients that have challenges relaxing mentally and emotionally to get to bed earlier I will often recommend Relaxin for a short period to assist in developing this earlier to bed pattern during the colder months.
Nutrition is another area of focus. When we are highly active in the summer and eating a lot more plant based foods we do not seem to have challenges gaining weight and as mentioned above, most of us lose weight during the summer. With this said, it is important to adjust our food choices as well as our quantities consumed during the summer months. First off, make sure you cut back on your portions during the winter months. Most are not as active and not burning the food as fuel which will then ultimately be stored on your hips, legs, stomach and/or butt. You get the picture!
It is positive to increase your protein and fat consumption during the winter but make sure you cut back on your fruit consumption. Fat itself does not make you fat, eating fat with elevated blood sugar is what puts fat on your body and increase your blood fat levels. Most do not know but fat consumption itself does not increase body fat, elevated insulin with excess fat increases our fat. If you actually consume too much fat with low insulin, your body will actually release the excess fat in your breath or your urine. So enjoy the positive benefits of the warming qualities of protein and fat without increasing fat stores. After all, we don’t have to live outdoors anymore so we do not need that extra layer of fat for the winter.
Being indoors constantly is another issue. Think about it, when it is cold outside our outdoor activity is usually about going from the car to the office, back to the car and back into the house. Personally, I remember when I used to live in the Chicago area, I would get this “respiratory thing” every year when the furnaces would go on. My lungs simply did not enjoy the stagnant forced air heat. Not that this is the most economically efficient thing to do, but I would open the window of my bedroom at night to get some fresh air with the furnace on, or I would drive with the heat on in my car with both windows open. I know, call me crazy.
Now not everybody will have the same issue with the furnace turned on as I did, but we can all purify the air in our homes to maintain a healthier environment while the windows are in lock down for 6 months. I am not going to tell you to go out and buy and expensive purification system for your home, but you can do something much simpler and cost effective. Fill your house with air purifying plants. Minimally, put many of these plants in your bedroom and the other main living space in your house. If you want to learn more about the best air purifying plants click on this past article.
We also do not want to ignore the fact that many of the indoor environments are not under our control. There will be other people that are sick, sharing so willingly with us there germs and infections but keep in mind that does not mean you have to get sick. One thing I used to do during the winter months is increase my intake of vitamin C, which is a very simple, inexpensive and effective antioxidant. I would take about 2000mgs before breakfast and dinner during the colder months when I knew I was inside with other people the were likely sick and infected.
We cannot forget energy also. We have all heard that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, while a body at rest tends to stay are rest. This is what happens to many of us during the cold months. We simple put ourselves at rest and stay there. Sad but true for most of us. Make it a point to join some type of indoor activity or activities that you enjoy often every week during the winter. While you were used to going out and moving and having fun through the summer, it is up to you to commit to continuing this through the winter. Join a bowling team, enroll in a yoga or Pilates class or start a winter weight training and stretching program. Simply get out and do something, move, be in motion!
I have many clients that will use Oxypower and/or Chi Energy in during the colder months to help maintain their energy. This does not take place of the lifestyle recommendations above, but rather a supplement to making the correct choices for yourself. Oxypower is beneficial for the heart, lungs, brain function and supports the body’s mitochondria, which is the little engine that drives every cell in the body. Hence improved energy. The Chi Energy will support heart, lung and adrenal function, which will all positively impact energy also.
Following the lifestyle recommendations above will help in and by itself, but the combination of the lifestyle changes along with the supplement support will go a long way in uncovering the secret to maintaining your energy through the seasons.
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